The March of Progress: December 2004

Submarine Aircraft Carrier Hybrid Craft Remarkable Failure

Jeremy Rosen
Sir Jeremy-Joseph Rosen, Bart. VC. is Caretaker of the Crown Spoons Collection for Her Majesty.

Submarine

Secretary of the American Naval Kreigsmarine (SECAMNAK) Grand Admiral Alouicious R. Humphrey announced yesterday, with a published report, that the United States will no longer seek the deployment of the experimental submersible aircraft carrier. Following weeks of testing in the North Atlantic, the project was finally scrapped after no fewer than seven F-3.14 “Cascading Walnut” air superiority aircraft failed to take off from the deck of the submerged aircraft carrier. The first of the submarine carriers, CVJ-01 the USS Al Gore, returned to its base at Norfolk, Virginia where it will be converted into a cargo transport.

Project Orient officially began in 1996, when the Pentagon drew up plans for a submersible aircraft deployment ship which was to act as the center of a new submersible fleet group to operate worldwide. The strategic aim of the project was the creation of an advanced fleet group undetectable to enemy satellites, which could project American military power globally. Throughout the next eight years this dream would become a reality, except for the fact that the prototype submersible carrier suffered from many design failures.

In May of last year, the initial testing of the Al Gore led to the destruction of three airplanes, when the pilots were unable to land properly on the submarine’s small flight deck. While initially the Navy chalked this crashes up to pilot error, a later inquiry revealed that the two hundred and thirty foot long deck provided insufficient space for the landing of aircraft. Even when eighty four separate braking cables were installed the carrier project continued to suffer from problems, as planes equipped with the necessary eighty four tail-hooks proved difficult to maneuver, especially on landing.

Despite the difficulties and design problems, the second phase of testing began in January of this year, when four separate take-off attempts were made by aircraft from the “Yellow Jacket” Squadron of the First Naval Air Wing. The first two tests went swimmingly, as the catapult launched aircraft were able to easily take off. The submerged take-offs however, proved far less successful. Modifications made to the Walnuts to allow submerged operation, including the oxygen tanks attached to the front of the jet intakes and the large valves added to the aft burners to allow combusted gasses to escape while keeping water out, made to planes too unwieldy for flight. The second tests, with highly modified rocket powered Walnuts were also unsuccessful, leaving four experimental craft lying at the bottom of the Atlantic.

In recent article in the Navy Proceedings announced the final death of the Al Gore project. Admiral Humphrey addressed the program’s critics, many of whom had long claimed that a submersible aircraft carrier was just stupid. “Yes,” the Admiral stated in the report “Now that I think about it, it was a really stupid idea. I’m not sure what we were thinking.”

U.S.S. Al Gore

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